W. Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm. ()
A jury in Louisiana awarded more than $9 billion in the first federal bellwether trial over claims that taking diabetes drug Actos increases the risk of bladder cancer. The verdict — the first of nearly 3,000 lawsuits coordinated for pretrial purposes before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in Lafayette, La. — emerged on April 7. “You don’t get something like this because the jury is upset about a mistake here or there,” said lead plaintiffs attorney W. Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm in Houston. Defendants Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. said the facts didn’t support the outcome and vowed to appeal.
JOBS MARKET LACKLUSTER
Entry-level employment data released on April 9 by the American Bar Association revealed a stalled market for young ­lawyers. Altogether, 57 percent of the 46,776 students who graduated in 2013 found full-time, long-term jobs that required bar passage within nine months of graduation, compared with 56.2 percent the previous year. An additional 10.1 percent landed jobs for which a J.D. was an advantage but not required, up from 9.5 percent. The percentage of recent graduates still looking for work rose to 11.2 percent.
N.J. SUBPOENAS QUASHED
A New Jersey judge has refused to enforce legislative ­subpoenas against two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane-closure incident. Judge Mary Jacobson on April 9 cited an open federal criminal investigation that might target Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien. On April 8, Christie’s attorney general defended the $650 hourly fee charged by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher to conduct an internal investigation that purported to clear Christie. The bill, he said, reflected “a significantly discounted rate” that was “slightly higher than what a first-year associate at Gibson Dunn bills out.”
NEW CHANCELLOR APPROVED
The Delaware Legislature has unanimously voted to confirm attorney Andre Bouchard as chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery, perhaps the nation’s top business tribunal. Bouchard was confirmed to lead the court following a seven-minute hearing ­during which he was asked about his ­private investments and how cases are distributed among the court’s judges. “The key thing I bring to this position is 28 years of practicing before this court,” he said.
FORUM NOT CONVENIENT
New York courts are not obligated to entertain every fraud case arising from significant financial transactions, the state Court of Appeals ruled on April 8. The ruling by New York’s court of last resort came in a lawsuit involving a Saudi bank on forum non conveniens ground. “Our state’s interest in the integrity of its banks is indeed compelling, but it is not significantly threatened every time one foreign national, effecting what is alleged to be a fraudulent transaction, moves dollars through a bank in New York,” Judge Robert Smith wrote for a unanimous court.
Federal prosecutors will take the remaining files of New York state’s anticorruption commission as the panel shuts down, and they plan to complete the investigations, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of New York City said on April 10. Bharara will move aggressively to complete the panel’s “important and unfinished work” investigating ­political corruption, he said. In a radio interview, Bharara declined to say whether his investigation would extend to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in light of a New York Times report that some top Cuomo aides meddled in the work of the supposedly independent commission.
ADVICE FOR YOUNG LAWYERS
Microsoft Corp. general counsel Brad Smith has some advice for young lawyers: “Go where you think you’ll get good training in the first four years,” Smith said during an April 9 speech at NALP’s annual conference in Seattle. “If you don’t get good training in the first four years, you will dig yourself into a deep hole.” Smith complained that the profession has stinted on training since the recession hit.